Happy first long weekend of summer!
Just some random thoughts as we head off into the killer weather we are supposed to have.
- I had the chance to take in the Jays game vs. Tampa on Wednesday night at the dome. I had seats in the second deck, behind home plate – last row. I’ve never sat there before and wasn’t aware of the over hang effect at the TED. While I dislike the atmosphere immensely with the roof closed it’s even worse under this overhang. The sound just sits there and it’s pretty awful. Once again, I will say that the in game presentation (see below) at the Dome is amongst the worst I’ve ever seen. I know all the purest don’t get it, but I am not talking to you. For the general to casual fans it sucks.
- Can someone tell me why the street south of the dome isn’t closed to cars and used only as a pedestrian walkway for pre and post game purposes? How great would it be to see food trucks, beer tents etc??? Seriously, it cannot be that hard to figure this stuff out.
- On the drive home I caught a little bit of Jays talk with Mike Wilner. The show is the hardest job in Toronto sports. Really, do people not value their time at all? They sit on hold for what has to be ages to say idiot things like “why do you keep saying it’s early, I’ll hang up and listen to your answer”. I mean really????? While Wilner clearly has the mean streak in him, he has the patience of a saint to take that abuse night after night.
- I then drove to Cleveland for game two of the Raptors vs. Cavs series. I actually gave it some thought after the predictable pounding they took in game one as to whether or not I wanted to make the trip to see them get killed again. Well, I am so glad I did. I had never been to Cleveland proper for a game before of any time and I could not have been more impressed. It was an easy drive, 4.5 hours door to door with no wait at the border. We passed tons of Ontario plates along the way, all of whom had Raptors gear in or on the car. We parked across the street from the arena ($40). The whole environment in and around the arena was awesome! Really fun restaurants and bars, tons of music and people 4 hours before the game! Streets were closed off and yes there was a whole section of town below the arena where no cars are allowed and it’s filled with hip restaurants and bars (See above). The fans in and around couldn’t have been any cooler. Lots of fun jabs and back and forth “gamemanship” but all of it with a smile. The arena while clearly a little older feels very small and has a great feel to it. The in arena screen is HUGE. It’s killer. The noise in the arena is phenomenal. The pre-game and in game presentation is fun. Every time the raptors were doing something positive, the screen would flash a Ben Rothersberg image on the screen and the arena would fill with booos- #brilliant. The only really lame thing is this item they have on the scoreboard called “The Diff”. Apparently fans in Cleveland can’t do math as it literally provides the score differential! If the Cavs are up by 5, “The Diff” says “+5”. If they re down by 2 it says “-2”. I mean really, what genius came up with that idea??????
- Post game and during our drive home we listened to ESPN radio on satellite radio. Amazing how much more respect the Raptors get nationally (internationally?) then they do locally. The talk on ESPN radio was that not having JV was a killer. The fact that the Cavs are just way bigger and stronger is a killer and having Lowry in a terrible slump doesn’t help either. Their biggest comment, something I haven’t heard on any radio show in Toronto is how the Raptors are getting screwed by the NBA scheduling department. The Raptors have been on an every other day schedule throughout the playoffs. The Raps played Thursday night and again today, on Saturday. Meanwhile, the western conference series played Wednesday and won’t play again until Sunday! The Raps will have played 2 games while the other series teams sit and rest. There is no way that would have been the case if it were the Heat and not the Raps playing the Cavs said literally every host and analyst on ESPN. Back in Toronto all the talk was about Lowry and going to the locker room and inviting himself to watch the game on Wed at the Cavs house. Neither thing was mentioned on ESPN at all. Go figure.
- The number one question I was asked in Cleveland? How you guys like Shapiro?????? Second most popular question? How long before Shapiro fires Gibbons and trades everyone away. They’ve seen this movie before they all said.
- You walk the streets around any Toronto sporting venue and you are surrounded by overpriced Kellel Karts (hot dog vendors). We saw 1 in Cleveland, big Brawts’ $4.00. Clearly a different economy than the big smoke.
- Speaking of Gibbons, I just love the banter on the radio by the experts on the rational reasons why Gibbons doesn’t deserve to be fired. “Gibbons isn’t the one not hitting”. “Gibbons isn’t the one who can’t get an out late in the game”. Really! You can’t make this crap up. I am not calling or suggesting Gibbons should be fired. I will say it again because at least two people reading this are going to come in and attack me for saying so or feel the need to defend the guy. I am not calling or suggesting Gibbons should be fired. However to say the manager isn’t the one failing because he doesn’t play is the dumbest argument ever. What coach or GM ever gets fired for a rational reason, let alone because they don’t play on the field, court or ice. Doug MacLean says it best. Coaches get fired because owners want change. It happens all the time. Is this the case with Rogers? I have no f’n idea, however the fact that ultimately Gibbons isn’t the one on the field has no merit whatsoever. Naylor and Landsberg had a writer on who said it’s unlikely he gets fired because he was within a hair of going to the world series and the team is in a slump. I can buy that. I say he get’s fired for one reason and one reason only, he isn’t their guy. It may not be today, tomorrow or anytime soon. When it does, that will be the reason.
- Back to Wilner, good on him for saying that when he says “its early” that’s not the same as saying “nothing to worry about”. When he says “it’s early” he explained this week he meant there’s lots of time to figure things out and get back in the thick of things. He’s not saying there are no problems.
- I don’t listen to the Fan morning show but many of you told me that their morning host was tweeting NBA draft predictions the eve of the NBA draft LOTTERY. Apparently the thought was the Draft and the lottery were happening the same night.
- Rumblings of panic at Rogers in the hockey department. The new boss is counting costs and everyone expects major changes post NHL playoffs. Who stays, who goes? Anyones guess but there is panic for sure.
- If you think Austin Matthews has Leaf nation pressure, wait until we see the pressure from the local and national sports media. Maple Leaf ratings blow. It’s going to Mathews mania in this town and on every broadcast. The only saving grace to that? If Stamkos signs in Toronto.
- I love that Phil Kessel is having playoff success.
- Nelson Millman posted on Social media that he’s about to ride off into the working sunset after a long career in the media business. The BEST segments EVER on PTS used to be when Nelson came and talked shop and took calls. The Biz will miss Nelson. Happy retirement!!!
- Not sure when the Argos open up at BMO, but I’d love to go with a big crowd…
- Happy May 24 weekend!